Planning an event is a pretty mammoth undertaking regardless of how many people are attending. There are countless things you need to take into account to make sure that things go off without a hitch and that it’s as productive as it can possibly be. However, when you do start to plan everything, there probably isn’t a single decision you’ll make than choosing which venue you’re going to hire. After all, you can’t host a great event without a great venue to match.
Not only is your choice of venue massively important from a practical point of view in terms of location, facilities, capacity etc, but it also really sets the tone for your event. Are you looking for somewhere quirky which will make people feel more chilled out than they would in the office? Do you want a venue in keeping with the more formal nature of an event? All of these things really matter if you want to make sure your event is well received and enjoyed by all those attending.
Obviously, your budget is going to be a large factor when deciding on your venue, as it will almost certainly be the most expensive part of your event. However, if you search around thoroughly, you’ll be able for find something that ticks all the most important boxes at all different price levels.
With so much to think about when picking a venue for your event, it can become quite a stressful part of the planning process. To help you remove some of that stress, we’ve put together a simple guide below to picking the perfect venue. We’ve included information on all the different elements you should be considering, so that next time you’re planning an event you can easily make sure there’s nothing you haven’t thought about.
Where to begin when searching for a venue
While there are various different approaches to finding a venue for your event, including calling up hundreds of places to ask about details and facilities, it’s very easy to quickly become overwhelmed. That’s why we think that using the SquareMeal website should be your first port of call.
Our search service allows you to narrow down venues according to location, style, price and more, meaning you can easily compare all the venues that fit your exact requirements. We have thousands of venues from all across the UK listed on our site, making it easy for you to get more information on each place and then make further enquiries if you wish to proceed with booking.
We realise that some people won’t have the time to search around for hours though, which is why we also offer a free concierge service to help you find the perfect venue. All you need to do is provide us with some information on what you are looking for and what your budget is, and we will come back to you with a selection of venues which we think could be the perfect fit.
Before you can even take this step though, there are some key things you need to decide on before you begin your search, which we have summarised below.
As we’ve already mentioned, there isn’t anything more important than setting yourself a budget before starting your property search. Obviously how much you or your company wants to spend is completely up to you but the important thing when setting a budget is being realistic. You won’t find a venue which ticks all the boxes if you aren’t prepared to give yourself a reasonable amount of money.
There are various things you need to take into account when looking at venue prices. First of all, you need to find out if the venue charges an upfront hire fee or whether it’s based on a minimum bar spend. If it’s the latter you need to be sure that you’ll hit the minimum spend by looking at how many people you’re inviting and estimating how much each person will spend depending on what type of event it is you’re hosting.
The other consideration when thinking about your budget is what you want that to include. Are you happy to pay extra for food and any equipment you might need, or are you wanting an all-inclusive price? It’s so important to check out all the details in terms of pricing packages before proceeding with a venue.
The importance of the location of a venue really depends on what sort of event you’re putting on. If it’s a small, one-day or one-night event and everyone attending is based in London, then the logical choice would be to find a venue in or near London. However, if you’re hosting a larger event which, for example, will involve people attending from different offices across the UK, deciding on a location can be a little trickier.
One of the first things to look at in terms of location is how close the venue is to public transport. If there’s no way to reach the venue apart from by car, you’re going to really narrow down the number of people who can actually attend. One really good way of deciding where to focus your search is to see roughly where everyone is coming from and then pick an area which is a similar distance to travel for everyone, or at least somewhere that’s easily accessible by train for everyone attending.
It’s also well worth considering the purpose of your event when deciding on location. If you’re wanting to host a big conference where everyone will be inside throughout the day, the location matters less than if you’re organising say a corporate away day or weekend where people will want to feel like they’re escaping the city.
Capacity & Facilities
Once you’ve decided on your budget and location, the final thing to think about is what capacity your venue needs to have and also what facilities you require. Capacity should be a relatively simple thing to decide on as it entirely depends on how many people you’re inviting to the event. However, something worth considering is whether people will be sitting down or standing up as venues often give two different numbers for capacity depending on this.
In terms of facilities, we would recommend finding a venue that can provide everything you might need, such as projectors, tables, speakers etc. While you can source these things separately from the venue, this just creates more work for you and quite often ends up costing more. Many venues have also now started catering to hybrid events, where you can have people attend both virtually and in person, so if that’s something you’re interested in, make sure to check with the venue in advance that they can facilitate that.
Once you’ve eventually decided on all these things, it’s time to start thinking about viewing some venues. It’s imperative that you get all the information you need before you look around somewhere though, as you don’t want to fall in love with a venue only to realise you can’t actually afford it.
Our advice would be to narrow your options down to a shortlist of around five venues, all of which match your requirements and then spend a day or two viewing them all, so that you can easily compare them. Make sure to all the questions you have at the viewings to make sure that there’s nothing you feel unsure about.
After that, it all just comes down to following your gut; if you can really visualise your event in the space, it probably is the right venue for you. Don’t overthink things, and you’re bound to end up with a brilliant venue.
Got your venue sorted? Here's a guide on planning the rest of your event